Official: Man sets fire, hops on bus to get away

A Modesto man was arrested on a city bus Thursday afternoon after he allegedly set fire to a shopping cart.

A witness saw the suspect light debris inside the cart sitting next to a sound wall covered in ivy on Paradise Road east of Vernon Avenue, said Lt. Dave Hutchinson, supervisor of the Stanislaus Regional Fire Investigation Unit.

He said the witness drove to the Burbank-Paradise Fire Protection District a few blocks away and banged on the door, then alerted Chief Mike Hiller of the incident, Hutchinson said.

Firefighters responded along with a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy and fire investigators. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze – which burned contents in the cart and ivy – while another witness told investigators the suspect had boarded a bus just before their arrival. The witness described the suspect as wearing all black.

Investigators caught up with the bus at its next stop about a half-mile east on Paradise at Wade Avenue, Hutchinson said.

They boarded the bus and found the suspect in the back. Passengers were pointing to him and saying he was hiding something underneath him. It was a lighter, Hutchinson said.

Alex Casillas, 18, was arrested on suspicion of felony arson of vegetation and property and probation violation.